N+ was (and still is) a tremendous title found on the Xbox 360. It was a terrible day when I was made aware that its sequel, N++, would not be releasing on Xbox One initially. Now that I’ve had the chance to try the game, I feel completely justified in being upset on missing out this whole time.
From the first trailer I watched for N++, I was impressed by the visuals. Between the bright colors and the sharply defined ninja sprites. These are accompanied by excellent, crisp sound effects. It’s just a shame that I don’t like the soundtrack as much as I like all the other audio and visual aspects. In fact, the music in N++ is part of my only issue with the title as I noticed a significant stutter if the game tried to change songs mid play session. Other than that though, I loved every bit of playing this excellent title.
One of the first new things I noticed about N++ was the addition of a section that tries to explain why levels are so short and what being a ninja is all about. This entry claims that The Way of N is what drives ninjas to collect all the gold they can in their short lifetime. To this end, these ninjas run, jump, bounce, wall jump, die, respawn, and do it all over again and again across a plethora of levels. All of this platforming is momentum-based and often requires precise timing to get just right. If you’ve played the original title, I shouldn’t need to say this, but the gameplay here is impeccable and incredibly satisfying. Nearly every stage in the game can be played in co-op despite not always having been designed for it, and there’s even a Race mode that pits players against one another in deadly foot races.
That brings me to one of my favourite things about the game: there is just so much content on offer. The biggest selection has to be Solo which includes 25 episodes in the Intro section and 100 more unique episodes in the N++, Ultimate, and Legacy categories. If 325 episodes isn’t that impressive to you (somehow), then maybe the realization that each episode is five levels long might help. That means that there are 1,625 levels found in Solo alone. Add the co-op specific playlist that has a ton of its own episodes and the fact that there are countless user-created levels, and I think you’ll see why I’m so impressed by the sheer number of levels to play.
If all of that isn’t challenging enough or you’d like to make your own stages, there’s always Hardcore mode and the level creator. Hardcore has players trudge ‘stories’, a new feature to the series which is defined as five episodes back-to-back, essentially a 25 level episode. This mode also introduces stricter time limitations and a penalty for death. Hardcore is only available for levels the player has already completed, so it doesn’t offer any new levels itself. On the flip side, the level creator allows players to step behind the veil and make dastardly dangerous stages, crazily convoluted puzzles, or perfectly precise levels to test other players’ skill (and patience). The controls in the level creator are interesting, but they definitely get the job done. Simply put, they are designed to make every action accessible with only a button press or two. This gave me trouble because I could not remember what every button did and had to constantly remind myself.
Finally, I’d like to talk about all the new features that N++ has brought with it. First up, Funlocks are made up of three things: color schemes, headband types, and special options. Requirements to trigger a Funlock are impossible to see in-game but most people simply say to play the game as much as you can to get most of them to pop. Funny enough, the three things Funlocks give the player are also new. Color schemes completely change the game, including the color of the background, foreground, gold, mines, enemies, interactables, buttons, and even the ninja and his headband! Those last two can even be changed between multiple colors within each color scheme, giving them a bit more personal touch.
All of this customization can be done on the fly, whether in a menu or in the middle of a level so long as the level is paused. Even though the ninja starts out without a headband in N++, I quickly ended up with three different types to choose from: normal, dramatic, and quixote. The first is how it was in the original N+, the second keeps the headband flowing as if there were a breeze even when standing still, and the final one makes the headband very long and ridiculous. One of the ways I believe you Funlock some of these things is by earning Gold Badges. These new badges are available on most levels and are given to the player when the complete a level (or entire episode) after collecting all the gold found in the stage(s). This gives the player an incentive to play riskier and go for the gold that normally would be ignored.
The last new thing I’d like to talk about is the fact that single player levels, while being able to be played in co-op, will not count as completed if beaten in co-op. This is different from the first game and is as much a shame as a it is a welcome change. On one hand, I enjoyed playing every level with my fiancée in N+, but on the other hand, I have always understood that we were playing those levels in a way that they weren’t meant to be played. Essentially, this change forces players to beat the levels themselves and without cheating if they want to prove how good they truly are.
N++ (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
A must-have for any platforming fan. Nearly everything is perfect in this game. If the soundtrack was a bit more memorable and the game didn’t stutter when a new song played, I’d give the game a 10 without question. But unfortunately, I can’t look past all the deaths this glitch caused me or how bored I was by the new list of songs.